Wedding Photography Workflow - Part One

Wedding photography workflow - Part One

This is what I do, I am not saying that it is the best way, the right way or the only way. It is how I manage my digital workflow and is a process that has evolved over time. Everyone will have their own view but I thought I would just take a little time to explain what I do.

As wedding photographers we deal with high volumes of images and it is important that we have a process in place to manage those images from the camera memory card through to delivering to the customer.

My camera has dual card slots so on the day of the wedding I have duplicate copies of all RAW image files. As soon as I arrive home I need to get these files copied from the cards to my computer. To do this I now use a fantastic application called Photo Mechanic. When I started doing press work I quickly discovered that Lightroom was not good for captioning and quick filing so I started to use Photo Mechanic which is designed for this purpose however as soon as you start to use it you notice how incredibly quick it is and realise the benefit of using it for pretty much all work.

On my return home from a wedding I greet my lovely wife stroke the dogs and grab a well earned beer. I use Photo Mechanic to 'ingest' my files. This is PM talk for importing or copying the RAW files from the memory cards to the computer. PM has a stack of options that allow you to rename the files and also to copy the files to a back-up location. Personally I copy the files to the 'Working' folder of my computer, in a sub folder with the date (yyyymmdd) and then another subfolder labelled RAW. I also duplicate this on to an external drive which in turn is copied to another external drive.

Prior to stating the ingest process I update the PM IPTC stationery pad with details of the event which means that when I get round to exporting the JPGs they will have correct and relevant IPTC data, this includes captions, keywords, copyright status, and contact information. The IPTC stationery pad is a fantastic tool and it's use of variables makes the task a complete doddle. You will see that the Stationery Pad has a number of fields that you can enter relevant data information into and this data will remain with your images.


IPTC Stationery pad


Once the images are safely ingested that is part one of my work flow complete. One thing here to note is that i keep the cards with the original RAW in a safe place until the images are processed.

Once all the files are ingested and backed up it is time to relax!

The next stage of my workflow normally takes place a couple of days later and this is the culling process. I will talk about this next time.  See Wedding Photography Workflow - Part Two



Alan Langley - Kent Wedding Photographer

How I broke my Instagram Account

I am not really much of an Instagram user but I am slowly getting into it. I hear time and time again about why I should use it for SEO and brand awareness reasons. I had uploaded a handful of pictures from my phone but couldn't understand why I couldn't upload from my computer. Had I thought logically about it, Instagram is all about uploading instant images so it is not really about uploading library images. Anyway, I started looking for ways to upload from my MAC. I didn't want to upload my whole portfolio but I did want to have the option of uploading relevant content when the need arose. I was thinking about uploading the odd image when shooting on location, or maybe a wedding image. Now I know this isn't exactly what it is designed for but I wanted the option.

After a bit of hasty research I found an application called Gramblr. This was it, exactly what I was looking for. I downloaded and quickly uploaded a couple of test images directly from my MAC. It is a very simple little app and works perfectly the only hitch was that the images needed to be square. You can even add a caption and your hashtags.

Gramblr for instagram


After having used the application I did a little more research and found an issue. Once you have uploaded even a single image to your Instagram account your #Hashtags no longer show up on search. I experimented, took some pictures, tagged them with unique tags and sure enough they did not show in search. I have no idea why this happens or if you can get the situation reversed by Instagram. For me it was not a big issue, I have deleted my original account and am now using a new account.

BUT - if you had just done this on a business account, or a popular account where searchable hashtags are important this could be a serious issue.

It seems a shame that the users are being penalised in such a way - I guess Instagram sees it as a form of spam. I also feel sorry for the developers of the application, they appear to have done an excellent job. From now on I will go back to uploading blurry out of focus images from my phone!

The moral of the story is to do your research first not after you have already broken your account.


Who is using your work? Images being used without permission

It amazes me how many times I find my images being used without permission. The image that features in this post is of little Anais and was from a newborn shoot. For some strange reason the image was rated highly by Google and would appear at the top of the page for search terms, newborn and newborn baby. If your images are rating highly then it stands to reason that you are more likely to have them used without permission. This is a bit of a double edged sword as we all strive to improve our Google ratings.

I monitor my web sites with Statcounter - this shows me visitor information and from this I can see if people are arriving at my site from Google Image searches. If they are then it is likely that the image is rating highly. If I see this activity then I do a reverse image search in Google. Effectively I search and Google shows me anywhere that it knows the image is being used. I can then investigate any of the entries. If you use Google Chrome as your browser then simply right click any image and you will see an option 'Search Google for this image'.

Below you can see a screen shot of an image search for the picture of Anais.


Google image search

The image of Anais appears all over the place, further down the post you will some screen prints of sites where it has been used.

If I find my images being used then I try and make contact with whoever is responsible for the site. Sometimes this is simple other times it is harder than you might think. At this stage it is good to take a screen print so that you do have a record - I tend to send this screen shot to the website contact too.

What happens next .... Usually not very much! If you can find a real person responsible then they will typically blame their web developer and the image will get removed. I have on occasion invoiced the guilty parties but generally these go unpaid.

If you can't identify a real contact then it is much more difficult. For example the MSN Arabia site. We have tried in vain to find a real contact but to no avail.

Whilst I follow up these incidents of image theft I do not lose sleep over it. The digital landscape is changing and I know that people assume anything they find on Google images is free. The thing that really annoys me is when other photographers use work that is not theirs. I contacted one so called photographer, I actually spoke to him on the phone and he really couldn't see the problem. I explained the error of his ways and the images were quickly removed but is it deceit or just negligence. Whatever the reason it is clearly misleading and totally unacceptable. Almost as unacceptable as businesses using stock images to advertise 'their' products but I will save that debate for another post.

What can you do to prevent this? The honest answer is not very much, anything in the public domain risks being used without permission. Watermarking is one of the obvious answers but is not something I like to do.

My advice to my photographer friends is to look up some of your images follow up any incidents. We're never going to fix the problem but we can raise awareness and do a little to protect our livelehoods.

Below a selection of screenshots featuring my image - and perhaps some of yours!!


Image Theft-14

Image Theft-00

Images being used without permission

Image Theft-04

Image Theft-13

Image Theft-03

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Image Theft-53

Image Theft-22

Landscape Photography

Documentary Landscape Photography

I have never really been interested in landscape photography, I am much more well known for my wedding and commercial work. In fact if I look back through my portfolio there is very little landscape work with the exception of the odd holiday snap. I have always looked at landscapes as a possible backdrop for a portrait not as a subject themselves.


Landscape Photography - Dover Sunrise

Recently I have been making myself go out and take landscapes, I try to do them when I am already out or going somewhere to be economical with my time. I have found that they are incredibly addictive.  Even going to the same place at the same time day after day the scene can differ dramatically. One of my all time favourite photographers Joe McNally says that if you want to take better photographs then put yourself in front of better things. This is so true with landscapes - it is not just the view but the weather conditions make a tremendous difference.
Landscape Photography - Dover Castle
I live on the coast so most of my images involve the sea. I find myself looking at tide tables working out what time is best for certain shots. High tide in stormy weather will be good for dramatic wave shots but low tide over the rock pools is perfect.
A fellow photographer and good friend of mine Matt Bristow, recently commented that I seem to have developed a cloud fetish. Well I wouldn't call it a fetish more of an addiction. I find myself watching the sky and trying to work out where would be best to take advantage of the conditions.
Shakespeare Beach storm-6316
I think my work would best be described as documentary landscape - I take the picture as it is and do very little processing. I see lots of HDR (High dynamic range) landscape images but I don't really like the look. I know that used correctly and in moderation the images do not look HDR and there are tremendous benefits but it is not for me - well not at the moment. I did dabble with Photomatix some years ago but found it wasn't really my cup of tea.  Whilst on the subject of taste I am also not keen of the cotton wool water look, I quite like a little blur but again think it is all about moderation.
Rockpools on Kingsdown Beach - Landscape Photography
As far as processing, I shoot RAW and process in Lightroom. I normally end up removing dust spots, adjusting a few sliders a little bit of dodge and burn and that is pretty much it.
Landscapes have made me much more aware of my locality and will be something I will continue to practice - it gets me outside and some of the views around here are simple breathtaking. The other thing is that I do them for me so I only have one person to please.
Dover Beach Sunset-2904

Creating shadows with flash - or even Speedlights

This shoot was all about creating shadows with speedlights. The final images use window light, flash and a combination of the two. Apologies right away, I call a speedlight a flash because I am British and old - I hope that doesn't confuse anyone.
Interesting shadow can add drama and create mood. To 'make' the shadows I used a remotely triggered flash (or speedlight if you prefer) on a stand and put different objects in the path of the light to create the shadows. If you are trying to this then you need a hard light source, hard really just means as small as possible. One way of making the light harder is to move it further away but obviously on location this can be difficult. Another way of making the light harder is to physically make it smaller. I uses a small piece of hobby foam with a slit cut into it which i put over the lens of the flash - this effectively makes the light harder. For a much better explanation of this technique check out David Hobby's blog post.

Flash Photography

I wanted the shadows to fall on the model as well as the background. This can cause some issues if the model is closer to the light source the shadows can appear significantly bigger. That said this is something that can be used creatively.
Anyway, enough waffle from me ...
This shadow is the lovely Lucy holding a clump of Bamboo

Flash shadow photography-6

This is the shadow the Bamboo makes

Flash Photography


Using the Bamboo shadows creatively.


Flash shadow photography-2

Flash shadow photography-3


This is an old plastic meat tray with some slits cut out


Flash Photography


This is the shadow it makes


Flash shadow photography-7Flash shadow photography-8Flash shadow photography-9

Now mixing the meat tray light with window light.


Flash Photography


This is the shadow created using a waste paper bin - apologies I didn't photograph the bin


Flash shadow photography-4


And here is the shadow put to good effect


Flash shadow photography-5


One word of warning ... when using this technique remember the light is very hard so having a beautiful model really helps. You can see more images from the shoot here

Culling in Lightroom with a USB Gaming Mouse

Culling in Lightroom - does this term mean anything to you? To many photographers the answer will be yes. Lightroom is my tool of choice for cataloguing and processing images that I take on a day to day basis. I have a workflow which essentially is my process for dealing with my images but I am not going to bore you with that now. Once the images have been transferred from the memory cards it is time to sort them. This is the process that I refer to as culling. I look at each image quickly and decide if it is worth keeping, if it is a keeper I rate it either 4 for a good solid image or 5 as one that may end up on the blog, slideshow or album. Everyone has there own way of selecting and picking but this is what works for me.

I find this the most laborious task that I have to do on a daily basis. A wedding can easily have two thousand plus images and I have to go through them all before making a start with the editing. Going off subject briefly I do try hard to take less images and I think knowing when not to press the shutter is a much overlooked skill that comes with experience. The complete opposite to the spray and pray method.

You will have noticed that even when trying to describe this process I go off at a tangent and talk about something else.

So, my images are loaded and viewable in the Lightroom library module and I have created 1:1 previews (or even smart previews). My traditional method was to use the left and right keyboard arrows to navigate and simply hit the keyboard 4 or 5 to rate. During this process I may also need to zoom in to check focus or to reset an incorrect rating back to 0.

This doesn't sound arduous but it dose require both hands on the keyboard and is very repetitive. It is also annoying enough to allow my mind to wander and tempt me to to other things.

I have seen loads of different articles about using USB gaming pads and even purpose designed systems but wanted to do something without having to spend lots of money. I stumbled across USB Overdrive a shareware application for MAC that lets you map USB devices. I already had an old USB gaming mouse (well actually I found one in my son's bedroom) so I thought I would see what I could do.


Culling in Lightroom - USB Overdrive


USB Overdrive recognises the mouse and the operation the controls I just needed to configure it in a logical way. I set the wheel to 'operate' the left and right keybord arrows. The buttons on top to 'press' keyboard 4 and 5 and the button on the side to keyboard 0.. Click also lets me zoom in and out so that is all I need.

I can now sit comfortably and cull my images quickly and efficiently. This will not suit everyone and I am sure there are many other ways of doing this but it works for me.

Timelapse Photography Experiment - Triggertrap

Timelapse Photography Experiment

I spend pretty much all of my time taking, editing, printing, blogging , backing up and talking about pictures. You really would be surprised at just how much work goes on behind the scenes for your average jobbing photographer. So what do I do to entertain myself .... spend a couple of hours in the park taking more pictures.

Timelapse photography has interested me for a long time, when my wife got a Canon G9 I was amazed at its timelapse capabilities. I actually stuck it on the car dashboard and recorded our journey to the south of France back in 2008.

Anyway back to today, I wanted to try a timelapse using a Triggertrap V1 as my triggering device. I decided that at 30fps three hundred frames would get me ten seconds of video. I tried a number of scenes and basically just stitched them together to create a single movie. The objective here was really for me to look at the results not to produce a work of art.

You can see my attempt below - some bits worked and some didn't! The feeding of the ducks scene was a bit of a fail but I can see that I like clouds and lens flare.

My set-up for this was the humble Nikon D90 with a 17-50 2.8 lens all safe and secure on my trusty tripod. I used an ND4 filter to achieve the lower shutter speeds and as mentioned above used a Triggertrap V1 as my triggering device. I used Timelapse Assembler to create the movie file from the individual frames.

For those of you who don't know about Triggertrap they sell a mobile dongle which plugs into your Android or iPhone and lets you do all sorts of clever things. They are also producing a new high speed triggering device which is currently being launched on Kickstarter.

You will be seeing more timelapse from me soon ... watch this space



Kearsney Timelapse short from Alan Langley on Vimeo.

Ossie Clark Fashion in sunny Margate - Kent Photography

Believe it or not the inspiration for this fashion shoot was Debenhams. Before Christmas they announced a new Ossie Clark concession range - much to the horror of many fashion lovers. Madam Popoff a vintage fashion expert suggested we shoot a spoof of the Debenham's Ossie Clark campaign but to use original Ossie Clark and other British boutique classics.

We shot around the harbour area in Margate which provides the perfect backdrop.

For the photographers amongst you we used three different lighting techniques, natural light, reflector and of course the beauty dish. I am proud of these images and also the simplicity of the production. Our model Abi did her own hair and make-up and post production was also minimal.
Model - Abigail Rose Greenfield
Stylist - Madam Popoff
Photographers - Alan and Thomas Langley
One of our setup shots ended up on the Vogue Italia Website - many thanks to Paraphernalia Margate for the loan of the deckchair.

Diary of a Wedding Photographer - To zoom or not to zoom?

I am lazy, or getting lazy, or both perhaps. I have been looking back at previous work and I think that one of my problems is zoom lenses. I have always been a zoom man, 24-70 and 70-200 my standard wedding equipment but I think it is time for a change.

Zooms are great, from a single position you can shoot wide and tight, landscape and portrait - loads of different looks, Or are they? The problem is you end up with different looks from the same perspective. You could almost just shoot wide and crop in post - well not quite but you get the gist.When you shoot with a specific focal length you need to think seriously and creatively about your vantage point.

You also get to understand your choice of weapon. Where you stand with a 20mm is not the same as a 70mm so why do we assume it is ok with a zoom? I will tell you why, laziness, complacency and of course convenience. Easy to say I know and I do understand as a wedding photographer that there are no second chances. Things move quickly and having a zoom certainly gives you more than a fighting chance to get the picture not necessarily to make the picture.

Shooting primes has always looked like the dark-side to me - it comes with it's own form of pitfalls. Shooting everything wide open, like driving all day in third gear, like painting your whole house magnolia, as creative as a 'Congratulations' as a first dance.  Joking aside, the wide open prime lens look certainly makes some images and can be fantastic when not overdone.

For weddings I have always found the zoom option safe and efficient but I seriously believe that creatively it is a bad move. I am a clumsy clot and don't like shooting with two cameras - apart from looking like an idiot I find it uncomfortable and restrictive. I will bump into doors, people, anything really and generally get myself in a tangle, I also seem to forget that my cameras don't automatically synchronise settings - a shame really.

So one camera and some nifty lens changes for me.  How long before I drop something mid lens change and go back to zooms? I was once in a church during a ceremony hiding behind a column changing lenses. The rear cap slipped from my clumsy fingers hitting the stone floor as the Priest paused for breath. The noise this little piece of plastic made was deafening - well it seemed like it. It then rolled across the floor out of arms reach and into full view of the congregation and did that noisy little spin thing before coming to rest. "If it is ok with our photographer I will now proceed with the service" - boomed the priest.

I will keep you updated on my rehab progress - wish me luck :-) Alan

Photography by Kent Wedding Photographer - Alan Langley


Bridal Fashion Photography - On the farm.

Bridal Fashion Photography


Everyone who knows me well understands that I am pre-occupied with taking pictures. A lot of businesses spend a lot of time and effort on branding and advertising but for me the single most important thing is the photography. Throughout the wedding down season I exploit every opportunity to practice and hone my skills.  When Kylie offered me the chance to shoot at the farm I knew it was too good an opportunity to miss.

The styling and concept is thanks to Kylie Marsh, not only did she research the era and advise on hair and make-up styles but she also sourced the fantastic 70's dress. In addition to her role as creative director she also kept us supplied with homemade cake - good news for any artistic team.

Many thanks to Lucy Moat  and Tasha Shields for Make-up and Hair styling - Maid-Up Makeup Artistry. Also special thanks to our beautiful model Abigail  Greenfield who was a real pleasure to work with.

For me it was an opportunity to attempt to quickly capture some stunning images in a short time. I even used TTL flash for a few of these - having Vi Karaliūtė assisting meant I could get a small softbox in nice and close. As always with TTL I found the results inconsitent but for a rapidly moving wedding environment in full sun the high speed synch does provide a simple solution.

After the TTL experiment I reverted to the fashion photographers favourite - using the beauty dish to balance the ambient light. I even used just natural light for a few of the  looks.

All in all a great team and a great couple of hours photography - but a above all a great opportunity to practice.